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A growing body of clinical research indicates that formula fed infants have significantly increased risk for the following debilitating and/or life-threatening conditions:
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia - Allergic Rhinitis - Aluminum Toxicity - Arteriosclerosis - Asthma - Autoimmune Diseases - Bacterial Meningitis - Cancers - Candida Infection - Cardiovascular Disease - Clostridium Infections - Colitis - Diabetes Mellitus: Type 1 - Diarrhea - Ear Infection - Eczema - Enterobacteriaceae Infections - Fluoride Toxicity - Fluorosis - Haemophilus Influenzae Infection - Hodgkin Lymphoma - Hypothyroidism - Immune Dysregulation: TH1/TH2 Imbalance - Infant Mortality - Infant Neurological Disorders - Intestinal Permeability - Iodine Deficiency - Leptin: Elevated Levels - Lymphomas - Mortality: All Cause, Elevated - Necrotising Enterocolitis - Nephrolithiasis - Nephrotoxicity - Obesity - Perchlorate Toxicity - Pneumonia - Respiratory Tract Infections - Salmonella Infections - Sepsis - Sudden Infant Death Syndrome [view the 1st hand biomedical citations here]
According to a study done in 2004 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 11.3% of infants in the U.S. were exclusively breastfed through the first six months of life; in other words, 88.7% of infants were exposed to the effects of synthetic formula during their most critical developmental period. This is undoubtedly a key factor in why the U.S. has the 2nd highest infant mortality rate in the industrialized world. In a 2006 poll of 33 industrialized countries, the US was ranked lower in infant mortality than only one country: Latvia. (State of Our Mothers 2006; Save our Children Foundation). The US infant mortality statistics are also a glaring indication that our infant vaccination policy, the most aggressive in the world, is failing in the real world to live up to its much tauted promises of "saving lives."
There are few who would question the inherent superiority of breast milk over synthetic formula, especially considering that suboptimal breastfeeding is associated with over a million deaths each year worldwide. We know, for instance, that breast milk contains a number of indispensable factors not found in formula and that the breast milk changes continually to suit the changing needs of the baby. Breast milk is a living food with enzymes, immune factors like lactoferrin, lysozyme and secretory IgA, prebiotics and probiotics, coenzymated vitamins, amino-acid bound minerals and hormones like appetite regulating leptin, etc. which are not found in formula. Also, breast milk is even capable of reducing the adverse effects of vaccination (unnaturally elevated antibody titers), which has lead some reseachers to suggest the absurd step of delaying breastfeeding during certain vaccines to prevent them from "interfering" with the shots.
No matter how crafty we are at replacing breast milk with formula, or natural immunity with synthetic "immunizations," we will never outsmart Nature, whose intelligent design is billions of years in the making, and proven successful in a process far more evidence-based than today's multi-billion dollar clinical trials, namely: by the fact that we are here, alive and well.
When it comes to formula, however, it is not simply what it lacks that makes it so dangerous, but what it does contain... sugar, and far worse!
Lactose is the most abundant carbohydrate found in breast milk and is unlike the sucrose (white sugar), maltodextrin, and high fructose corn syrup found in virtually all formulas. The glycemic index of lactose (46) is much lower than that of sucrose (68), maltodextrin (137), and high fructose corn syrup (89), and promotes the growth of beneficial Lactobacilli bacteria such as Acidophilus. Higher glycemic carbohydrates can lead to the growth of putrefying and pathogenic bacteria and yeasts, suppress the immune system and can induce adverse endocrine changes, such as the over-secretion and/or resistance to cortisol, adrenaline, leptin and insulin. Industrially-purified fructose (often from GMO corn, which contains herbicide residues like the endocrine disruptive glyphosate) is perhaps the worst simple carbohydrate, having been tied in the biomedical literature to over 70 adverse health effects.
Allergens with multiple modes of toxicity
According to the FDA, of the 160 foods known to cause allergic reactions, cow's milk and soy are part of the top 8, which are required by law to be listed on labels. Virtually all infant formulas on the market today contain one or more of these common allergens as a main ingredient. The following three foods have insurmountable problems associated with them:
1) They are used to produce industrial adhesives: casein, the sticky white protein in cow's milk was once the basis for Elmer's Glue, and industrially-processed soy protein is used to produce plastics, composite and is sticky enough to replace formaldehyde-based adhesives in the production of plywood. These glues will contribute to intestinal villi atrophy, inflammation, malabsorption syndrome, malnourishment, as well as increased intestinal and gut permeability, also known as "leaky gut syndrome," where undigested proteins enter the blood causing autoimmune and neurological disorders.
2) Neurotoxic chemicals: Processed cow's milk and soy contain relatively high levels of L-glutamic and L-aspartic acid – naturally occurring components of the infamous excitoxins aspartame and monosodium glutamate. These two amino acids, when ingested in free form (as may occur in many hydrolyzed infant formulas) excite the nervous system, sometimes causing over-stimulation and death of neurons. Cow's milk also contain an opiate-like substance known as 7-casiomorphin.
3) Cow's milk and soy contain potentially toxic glycoproteins known as lectins which can cause either direct damage to certain cell types in our body, e.g. thyroid, pancreas, kidney, joints, etc, or secondary immune-mediated damage, e.g. soy and milk lectins can cause the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas to exhibit class II HLA antigens, marking them for autoimmune destruction. Cow's milk and soy also contain hormone mimicking and hormone modulating endocrine disrupters, which can adversely effect metabolism, growth rates and sexual maturation when consumed excessively, or when there are genetic incompatibilities.
Dangerous Inorganic Minerals!
With few exceptions, the minerals found in infant formula can not be considered biologically appropriate or suited to the needs of infant metabolism. Manufacturers of formula, as well as supposed watchdog agencies like the FDA, consider it perfectly appropriate for these formulas to contain chemically processed mineral wastes, gleaned as by-products from the mining and chemical industries. Some of these minerals, such as copper sulfate, are actually used to kill fungi, weeds, algae, mollusks and bacteria. (See our article on the topic). Sodium selenate, a popular ingredient in formula, is not allowed in public drinking water above 50 parts per billion (EPA Federal Drinking Water Standards) due to concerns regarding its toxicity. How is it that chemicals with known toxicity, or worse, are actually used to kill living things, are legally allowed to be put in formula to sustain new life?
Undoubtedly, ignorance plays a key role in this problem. Scientists, health authorities and government officials alike have a surprisingly difficult time acknowledging the obvious biological differences between inorganic and dead minerals with those that are complex with proteins, enzymes and other essential co-factors, such as is found in living breast milk. However, given that the global market for formula is at an estimated 7.9 billion dollars annually, other motivations, such as cutting ingredient costs take precedence over product quality and safety. After all, breast milk is free, and therefore is impossible to compete with on the basis of cost. The best manufacturers can do is to produce a cheap product using cheap ingredients. A well put together formula with non-allergenic proteins like goat whey, and whole food mineral and vitamin concentrates would probably cost ten to twenty times higher than regular formula, which would price many families out of this profitable market completely. (For more information on the toxicity of mass market vitamins and minerals read Is Your Multivitamin Toxic)
The Tip of the Iceberg?
There are many other serious problems with formula but space does not permit us to elaborate further on these aspects in detail here. For now, we conclude that given this veritable nightmare of potential toxicities, infant formula, rather than viewed as a less than perfect facsimile of breast milk, should be considered a full scale assault on infant health and well-being.
When Breastfeeding Is Not An Option
There are times when breast milk dries up early, and in those cases it is important to remember the universal foster milk: goat's milk. Goat's milk based formulas do exist on the market and can be prepared from scratch. There are also breast milk sharing clubs that can provide an alternative to formula. Keep in mind that some "organic" formulas, like the Earth's Best "organic" formula produced by Hain Celestrial Group still contain many of the same problematic ingredients found within mass market formula, so you have to be careful. For a product ingredient analysis of Earth Best's formula go here.